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Resource Data - Solar Statistic & Data
Last Updated on:  06/25/2015 06:31 AM

Wind Resource Assessment

All markets for wind turbines require an estimate of how much wind energy is available at potential development sites. Correct estimation of the energy available in the wind can make or break the economics of wind plant development. Wind maps developed from the late '70s to the early '90s provided reasonable estimates of areas in which good wind resources could be found. Now, new computing tools and new meteorological data sets allow researchers to create even more accurate and detailed wind maps of the world.

Wind mapping and validation techniques developed at the NWTC along with collaborations with U.S. companies produce high-resolution maps of the United States that paint a new picture of the wind resource potential. Information System mapping tools and an array of satellite, weather balloon, and meteorological tower data, combined with much-improved numerical computer models provide more data. The higher horizontal resolution of these maps allows for more accurate depiction of the overall wind resource and has led to the identification of new wind development areas where the wind resource was previously considered unsuitable.

NWTC provides technical assistance in wind resource assessment including the development and validation of high-resolution wind maps. The focus is to provide the wind industry, policy makers, and other stakeholders with applied wind resource data, information products (e.g., maps), and technical assistance with increasing emphasis on increased heights to effectively evaluate and develop wind potential. For example, a recent project resulted in the development of new wind resource maps at heights of 80 and 100 meters for the contiguous United States and estimates the wind energy potential that would be possible from development of the available windy land area.

The ability to accurately predict when the wind will blow will help remove barriers to wind energy development by allowing wind-power-generating facilities to commit to power purchases in advance. NREL researchers work with federal, state, and private organizations to validate the nation's wind resources and support advances in wind forecasting techniques and dissemination. Wind resource validation is important for both wind resource assessment and the integration of wind farms into an energy grid. Validating new, high-resolution wind resource maps will provide an accurate reading of the wind resource at a particular site. Development of short-term (1 to 4 hours) forecasting tools will help energy producers proceed with new wind farm projects and avoid the penalties they must pay if they do not meet their hourly generation targets. In addition, validating new high-resolution wind resource maps will give people interested in developing wind energy projects greater confidence as to the level of wind resource for a particular site.

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